Listening to Poetry in Welsh
When she announced she’d read her set in Welsh,
there was puzzlement. This was the Met, after all,
the City bar. Had she been about to read
in Spanish, Urdu, Mandarin – or Gaelic, at a push –
they might have been more quickly won.
Baffled, they listened to the gentle consonants
of the girl from Ceredigion, trying hard
to sift through caricature, to banish
the miners’ helmets, sheep farms, Mams,
from their responses, trying just to listen
to the three poems (unbeknown to them
about a broken trust, a ruined chapel
and an unsent Valentine). Their features
were composed into a cultural benignity,
a few preparing, later on, to laugh.
Robert Nisbet writes a poem most Sunday mornings in a large-windowed room in West Wales, looking away towards the Irish Sea. His work has been published widely and in roughly equal measures in Britain and the USA.